With increasing enrolment, and a new school opening, Western School Division (WSD) Board of Trustees met with the education minister Nello Altomare about the financial pressures it's facing.     

Board Chair Brian Fransen said between the years 2020 and 2022, WSD's assessment base increased by 5.58%. Over that same time period, Western's enrolment grew by more than 14%. 

"That is going from full time enrollment in 2020 of 1798 students until 2022, where we had 2052 students, full-time equivalents. Looking forward to this fall, we anticipate that our full-time enrollment will be 2270 students. Looking back, comparing 2024 to 2020, that is a 26.3% increase in enrolment, a 2% increase per year does not keep up."  

The previous government had capped the amount school boards could increase local taxes at 2% each year. Recently, WSD passed a budget for 2024-25 school year, with taxpayers receiving approximately a seventeen percent increase on next year's bill, this came after the NDP government reinstated school divisions' ability to raise revenue through local taxation beyond 2 percent.  

"Now, if we were to pass, what would be called a "status quo budget" with a 2% increase in special requirement this year, it would provide about $166,000 in additional revenue. It would have continued education property tax cuts on all local ratepayers and cause us to need to make major cuts to our staffing, creating an unsustainable educational environment, and our cost per pupil would continue to drop even though we are the lowest in the province, right now. Another way of looking at this would be to say that we would be borrowing from the future to pay for today."  

WSD Board Chair Brian Fransen at the Budget Consultation last month.WSD Board Chair Brian Fransen at the Budget Consultation last month.

In a six-point document (posted below), Fransen explained several other factors which have contributed to the call for a meeting with Minister Altomare, which took place on February 26th, two days before the public budget presentation, where the financial realities facing WSD were discussed. 

With the addition of the new school, there will be other costs incurred such as operational costs for the first full year and outfitting EDT with furnishings etc.   

"Since the beginning of the École Discovery Trails Building project, our administration and staff have been working with government staff to ensure alignment with funding expectations. The provincial funding per classroom to outfit a new school has not increased in more than 12 years. Any shortfalls in funding must be covered by the local taxpayer." 

He briefly outlined a portion of the outcome of the meeting with the minister on this point.   

"There was an understanding on both sides of the table that due to policy constraints on local funding, WSD would not be able to outfit École Discovery Trails without provincial support."  

Fransen added, Minister Altomare committed to working with the division to find solutions to minimize the impact on local ratepayers.

WSD Board of Trustees: Lisa Burley, Vice Chair Darcy Wolfe, Chair Brian Fransen and Susana HawryshkoWSD Board of Trustees: Lisa Burley, Vice Chair Darcy Wolfe, Chair Brian Fransen and Susana Hawryshko


Sudden changes to the enrolment funding formula caught divisions across Manitoba off guard, according to Fransen, with another hurdle adding more financial pressures. A spreadsheet discrepancy in provincial funding calculations has adversely affected this year's budget.   

"The result of this change in funding was a net loss of a little more than $500,000, or nearly 3% of our provincial funding for the year. Now, that may seem small in comparison, but with our already tight budget, that means that there are difficult decisions to make as we close out this year." 

The division is actively seeking resolution to ensure finances in this situation are rightly restored.  

Read the full statement issued by Western School Division here: